Community Arts Organizations Call On City For More Funding
01/09/2008 10:16 PM
Arts programs dedicated to serving communities of color brought their fight for more green to City Hall Wednesday. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Copyright © 2008 NY1 News
Artists and leaders of community arts organizations say they are the faces that make up the neighborhoods of the city. But, they say their artistic voices are being silenced by a lack of city funding.
"We pay taxes and our monies are not coming back into our community to give our children the opportunity for an education," said Laurie Cumbo of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts.
Members of a coalition called the Cultural Equity Group want to provide the youth with a cultural education. Their aim is to fight for a larger share of the city arts budget, even as the city faces rough economic times ahead.
"These organizations need the means in order to continue and survive," said Bob Lee of the Asian American Arts Center.
"Health insurance is a major concern of my for artists and cultural workers, as well as other forms insurance for the organizations who need to survive who with the increased insurance costs and fuel costs and are put jeopardy," said Bill Aguado of the Bronx Council on the Arts.
The issue of funding these organizations was brought before the City Council's black, Hispanic and Asian caucus on Wednesday.
"What we are here to do is expand the pool of funds so that all organizations in New York City, particularly that reflect the diversity of New York, can share in the windfall of public funds," said City Councilman Letitia James.
James says she may call for a hearing over the matter before negotiations over the new city budget this spring. The Department of Cultural Affairs says it's willing to discuss the issue.
Although these cultural center directors say the city isn't giving them enough funding to stay afloat, the Department of Cultural Affairs says it is giving more money to organizations of color.
DCA tells NY1 that 70 percent of applicants are receiving more money in the current budget.
Furthermore, DCA says that $24 million has gone to programs that cater to people of color, up from only $4 million in the previous city budget.
However, the program directors say that doesn't go very far.
"An organization in the past that got $7,000 and now is getting $14,000 that represents a 100 percent increase. But in 2008 or 2007, how does an organization run on $14,000," asked Marta Moreno Vega of the Caribbean Cultural Center.
City laws mandate the majority of the cultural budget has to go to programs on city property, which are mostly the larger, more established cultural institutions. They received $128 million this year.
- Dean Meminger